TOKYO - Japan’s prime minister criticized the country’s nuclear safety agency yesterday for allegedly trying to plant questions aimed at supporting atomic energy at public forums.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency was siding with the industry rather than acting as a regulator. He said that underscored a cozy relationship and the deep-rooted problem that must be corrected following the March 11 tsunami and the nuclear crisis.
“NISA, which is supposed to check nuclear safety to represent the interest of the general public, provided support for the promoters. It was more than just a help, if true,’’ Kan said at an energy symposium.
Kan’s comment followed a government report showing NISA allegedly tried to manipulate public opinion at town meetings to promote nuclear power.
Public support for nuclear energy has eroded since the March disaster that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The International Atomic and Energy Agency has criticized Japan’s murky nuclear regulation system, while the government also acknowledged the need to separate NISA from the Trade and Industry Ministry that promotes atomic energy.
In Japan, 35 of 54 reactors are idle, causing electricity shortages in sweltering heat.